Aphasia is an acquired language impairment and a common symptom of surviving a stroke. Aphasia has many different characteristics depending on which parts of the brain the stroke has affected, including problems with reading, writing, finding words, repeating and understanding. Difficulties understanding spoken and written language have an impact on independent living and are resistant to therapeutic interventions. However, many individuals who have impaired comprehension immediately after their stroke recover over subsequent nine months.
Recovered individuals have been studied using neuroscience methods, particularly brain scanning techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging. Individuals who do not recover their comprehension abilities are, instead, investigated using neuropsychological techniques such as language tests. For this reason, we are yet to understand the differences between those individuals who do and do not spontaneously recover language comprehension abilities.
This research aims to uncover these differences by investigating language skills and brain changes in those who do and do not recover language comprehension skills. By following stroke survivors with comprehension difficulties for the first nine months after their stroke, language and cognitive factors associated with recovery will be identified. After nine months, those who have recovered will be compared to those who have not recovered using advanced functional magnetic resonance imaging analysis techniques to identify the changes associated with efficient brain re-organisation. The findings will allow the development of targeted therapeutic interventions and have implications for clinical resource allocation.